Shop Parts keyboard_double_arrow_right
Need car parts? Select your vehicle
Reading Time: 6 minutes
Summary
  • Possible reasons your car door won’t close include a stuck seatbelt, a closed latch jaw, a dirty or corroded latch, bent hinges, and a misaligned striker.
  • A loose latch rod, jammed door handle, misaligned door hinges, short-circuited power door lock, and cold weather can also keep the door from closing.
  • How to fix the car door that won’t close depends on what’s causing the issue.

A car door that won’t close is dangerous because it could swing open at any time. Imagine it opening in the middle of a crowded street or on the highway while driving at high speeds.

Not only will the open door put your passengers at risk, but it could also hit other vehicles, leading to more accidents and a more expensive repair bill. As such, it’s crucial to know why your door won’t properly close to fix and avoid the problem.

Possible Reasons Why Your Car Door Won’t Close

Problems that can keep the door from closing include a closed latch jaw, a dirty or corroded latch, bent hinges, and a misaligned striker. A loose latch rod, jammed door handle, misaligned door hinges, short-circuited power door lock, and cold weather can also be the culprit.

car door unable to close
A car door that won’t close is dangerous because it could swing open at any time.

Stuck Seatbelt

It will be difficult to close the door if the seatbelt is stuck over the striker or its latch plate is in the door jamb. Of course, this is easy to see, so it’s not complicated. You can simply remove the obstruction and close the door if this is the case.

Closed Latch Jaw

The latching mechanism of car doors has two jaws and a level. The lever links to the door handle so that when you pull it, the lever pulls back, opens the jaws, and releases them from the anchor.

See also  Is Your 4 to 8-year-old Child Using an Adult Seat Belt?

As such, the door won’t close if the latch doesn’t open. You can try pulling the handle to release the latch. If that doesn’t work, you might have to replace the latch mechanism.

image of a damaged door latch
If you look carefully at the door latch you can see how it works, and you can inspect it for damage, rust, corrosion, wear, etc. If you want to test it, you can use a screwdriver to close the latch with the door open and then operate the handle to see how freely the jaws release. You can also lubricate the latch during this process. | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

If you want to test your door latch, you can use a screwdriver to close the latch with the door open and then operate the handle to see how freely the jaws release. You can also lubricate the latch during this process.

Richard McCuistian, ASE Certified Master Automobile Technician

Dirty or Corroded Latch

Door latches are susceptible to damage against the elements, debris, dirt, and moisture, but usually they work just fine for the life of the vehicle. If there is corrosion causing the latch to seize or be difficult to operate, you might be able to use the method described above and fix the issue by lubricating the latch with spray penetrant.

Bent Hinges

Hinges allow doors to swing open or close. They’re susceptible to bending, especially when the door overextends. While some vehicle door hinges are attached to the body and the door with bolts, some others are welded to the body and only bolted to the door.

, Why Won’t My Car Door Close? Possible Reasons and Fixes

Pro Tips are nuggets of information direct from ASE-certified automobile technicians working with CarParts.com, which may include unique, personal insights based on their years of experience working in the automotive industry. These can help you make more informed decisions about your car.

Pro Tip: You might want to hire a body shop to take care of door hinge issues. But there are bushing kits available at parts stores for some vehicle doors.

Misaligned Striker

image of a misaligned striker
A misaligned striker | Image Source: Richard McCuistian

A door strike plate is a metal knob-like catch or a square metal loop on the door pillar built so that the door latch clasps around it and locks when the door is closed. It’s adjustable.

Naturally, if one of the strikers is misaligned, it can cause the latch to drag over or hit the striker, making it difficult to close the door.

One of the ways to deal with this problem is to adjust the striker by loosening some of its screws, moving it slightly, and tightening the striker. You can also replace it with a new one if the damage is irreparable.

See also  What are the Parts of a Car Door?

Loose Latch Rod

If your car door was jimmied in the past, the rods attached to the latch might’ve come loose from their clips. A loose latch rod will prevent you from opening the door, and the lock will be stuck shut until you fix it.

There are two ways to deal with the problem: either reinstall the knocked-off latch rod or replace the rods if they’re bent.

Jammed Door Handle

Whenever you use a door handle, it extends a metal rod or pulls a cable to disengage the door latch from the anchor. When these jam the door handle or become disconnected, they don’t usually leave the door stuck open; they prevent it from being opened, and somebody has to get the door panel off without opening the door and try to unlatch the door that way.

The best way to handle this issue is by replacing a malfunctioning door handle, door latch release linkage, or a broken latch release cable. These are complicated repairs, so it’s best to leave them for mechanics to handle.

Misaligned Door Hinges

A misaligned door means the space between it and the fender is uneven. It’s usually due to worn hinges, an overextended door, or physical damage caused by accidents.

Cold Weather

Extremely low temperatures could cause the door lock to freeze and prevent you from opening or closing it. If moisture seeped into the latches, it could also freeze and keep the door from closing.

You can deal with it by spraying lock de-icer on the latch, heating it with a hair dryer, or using WD-40. You can also coat the car key with hand sanitizer and let it melt the ice inside the lock.

Don’t use boiling water to melt off the ice, as it could damage the latch.

How to Fix a Car Door That Won’t Close

Fixing a car door involves locating the cause of the issue first. Afterward, you’ll have to fix, adjust, or replace the affected parts. Here are some common solutions:

Adjust Door Anchor

A misadjusted anchor prevents the door from closing. To fix this issue, you’ll have to readjust the anchor by looking at it to locate where the latch is hitting.

Afterward, loosen the anchor retaining bolts, move the anchor by 1/16 inches, and retighten the bolts to see if the door closes. You might need numerous trials and errors to identify the proper adjustment.

See also  Airbag Warning Light: Why Is It On and Should You Keep Driving?

Fix a Stuck Latch

If a latch mechanism is stuck, use oil, silicone spray, or WD-40. Let it soak for a few minutes before rubbing the visible parts with a clean cloth. Also, check for any rust on the other components and use a piece of steel wool to scrape it away.

Open the door to check if it’s functioning. Repeat the process if there’s still resistance.

Replace a Bad Latch

This requires skill most DIY folks don’t have, so you should probably hire this done.

Open Up a Closed Latch

If one of the latches accidentally closes, you need to compare how it looks compared to the latches of the functioning doors. The latter should have a latch with open “jaws” to engage the door jamb anchor and rotate it to a closed position. On the other hand, the closed latch might have jaws in the closed position.

To fix it, you’ll need to hold the door handle in the open position and use the screwdriver to rotate the latch to the open position if the spring-loaded elements of the latch aren’t working right.

Align the Door by Fixing the Hinges

Visually inspect the car door to see if it’s misaligned. If it is, check the hinges first for rust before cleaning them with WD-40. Use a screwdriver to tighten up any screws in the door hinges if needed.

Get Professional Assistance

Like most automobile issues, the easiest way to deal with car door problems is to take it to a professional. The price of the repair differs depending on what’s causing the problem, the severity of the issue, and labor cost.

Generally, you can expect the following prices:

  • Door latch replacement: $150 to $350
  • Door hinge replacement: $70 to $250
  • Door handle replacement: $80 to $500
About The Authors
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

Reviewed By Technical Reviewer at CarParts.com

Richard McCuistian has worked for nearly 50 years in the automotive field as a professional technician, an instructor, and a freelance automotive writer for Motor Age, ACtion magazine, Power Stroke Registry, and others. Richard is ASE certified for more than 30 years in 10 categories, including L1 Advanced Engine Performance and Light Vehicle Diesel.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

NTMS Star
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
0 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

View all Questions & Answers

expand_more
CarParts.com Answers BE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY: Share your knowledge & help fellow drivers Join Now